MoneyGram Money Transfer Review
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MoneyGram’s large network includes 350,000 agent locations and kiosks in more than 200 countries. It also has a full range of funding and receiving options, including cash deliveries and phone reloads in some markets. And transfers are quick: Cash is typically available within minutes, while bank transfers take a few hours to a day or so to many popular destinations.
But all these features come at a cost. MoneyGram was among the most expensive transfer providers we researched. Its per-transfer and per-month maximum for online transfers — $10,000 to $15,000 — is lower than some providers’ NerdWallet surveyed.
MoneyGram is best for:
Quick (but often expensive) delivery and a large network.
Massive international transfer network. MoneyGram is available in more than 200 countries at 350,000 agent locations and kiosks.
Fast delivery. Cash is typically available for pickup within minutes. Delivery options include same-day transfers to bank accounts in some countries.
Multiple delivery methods. Recipients can get a deposit to their bank account, debit card or mobile wallet or pick up cash at an agent location. And in some countries, home delivery is available.
Option to set up recurring transfers. Automatic money transfers can be set up to occur on a weekly or monthly basis.
Easy-to-use website. MoneyGram lets you see what costs, speeds and delivery options are available for your transfer without logging in. FAQ are well-organized and clear.
On the expensive side. MoneyGram transfers cost more than many competitors’.
Transfer limits on the lower side. While the limit is $15,000 to some countries from the U.S., the per-transfer and per-month maximum for online transfers is $10,000 for most countries, which is a lower amount than some competitors allow.
Lacks phone support. Customer support is available by live chat and a contact form on the site and also through Twitter, but there’s no phone support listed on the site.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lawsuit. In April 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York attorney general sued MoneyGram for failing to deliver funds promptly to recipients abroad. The case is ongoing as of the publication date of this article.
MoneyGram transfer methods and options
MoneyGram offers several ways to transfer money. Here’s a breakdown of the options:
Sending channels: Online using MoneyGram’s website or mobile app, or in person at a MoneyGram agent location or kiosk.
Payment options: Bank account, debit card or credit card when paying online — standard for many online providers. At an agent location, you’ll generally need to pay in cash.
Delivery options: Bank deposit to the recipient's bank account, cash pickup at an agent location, delivery to a debit card or mobile wallet. In some countries, home delivery is an option.
Transfer limits: In the United States, the limit is $15,000 per online transfer to more than 40 countries; it’s $10,000 per online transfer and per 30 calendar days elsewhere.
» Compare international transfer options. Read about the best ways to send money internationally
Definitions: Money Transfer Rates
There are three rates that determine how much your money transfer will cost and how much money your recipient will receive.
Exchange rate: An exchange rate is the price of one currency in relation to another currency. For example, if you want to convert U.S. dollars to euros, you would check what one U.S. dollar is worth in euros.
Midmarket rate: The midmarket rate, also called the interbank rate or interbank exchange rate, is the exchange rate that big banks use to swap currencies among one another.
Exchange rate markup: Most providers use an exchange rate markup when pricing your transfer. They give customers an exchange rate that’s the midmarket rate plus an additional percentage, or markup, to make a profit on the transfer.
Example: If the midmarket rate for U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is 20 pesos per dollar, then a 2% exchange rate markup means the provider is giving you 19.6 pesos per dollar. For a $500 transfer with a midmarket rate, you’d send 10,000 pesos, but with a 2% markup, you’d end up sending 9,800 pesos. The higher the markup, the less your recipient gets in their currency.
General advice for international money transfers
1. Know how exchange rates work (and how to find the best). One of the ways money transfer providers make money is through exchange rate markups. Most transfer providers won’t give you the exchange rate you’d find on a currency exchange platform like the one at Bloomberg.com or Reuters.com. Those sites just tell you the price of one currency in relation to another, but they are a helpful starting point to know what the best rate looks like this minute. When you check the exchange rate for an international transfer with services like Western Union, focus on the exchange rate markup by looking at the foreign currency amount. The higher it is, the lower the markup is, and the more money your recipient receives.
2. Compare total transfer costs across multiple providers. There are two types of costs: upfront fee and exchange rate markup (see above). Find the provider that has the lowest fee combined with the best exchange rate you can get. Usually online nonbank providers offer cheaper transfers than banks.
3. Avoid paying with a credit card. It’s an option for some providers, but there might be a higher upfront fee and your credit card issuer may tack on costs such as interest and cash advance fees. A transfer paid by bank account directly tends to be a much cheaper (and much slower) transfer. If you need money delivered quickly, use a debit card, which will also incur a lower fee than using a credit card.
We analyze seven providers in the international money transfer industry that work in the U.S. For more details, see our Ratings Methodology for Domestic and International Money Transfer Providers.